Who is Lee?

Hello! ¡Saludos! 初めまして!Bonjour!

I’m Lee, and these are the languages I speak, more or less: English, Spanish, Japanese, and French. I want to improve my skills in all, hence the blog. I hope you’ll get something out of it, too.

So this is what I like to do in my life and what I’d like to do here:

  • Help people communicate better.
  • Promote cross-cultural understanding and friendship.
  • Foster language skills and clear, smooth writing.
  • Broaden my horizons, whether through travel or by bringing others’ cultures to me.
  • Enjoy chatting about all the languages I study and teach and the places I’ve visited or would like to visit.
  • Eliminate all typos and grammatical errors from the world — give me enough time and I WILL achieve it! 😉

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been fascinated by languages. I started studying Spanish in 8th grade, and by 12th grade I was taking Spanish 5, French 1, and Japanese 1 (and I probably would have taken more if they had been offered). I became the first (and possibly still only?) student at my large metropolitan Detroit high school to earn the highest score possible on the Advanced Placement Spanish exam. I had a large handful of pen pals, some who spoke Spanish or Japanese, and in my free time I’d dig deeply into my dictionaries to understand what they wrote as well as to express myself to them. They helped me immensely!

In college, I continued taking Spanish and Japanese classes, and also experienced my first visits abroad. When I was 18 I was a work/study intern for the Biwako Kisen Steamship Company in Otsu, Japan, working on a steamship called the Michigan. Now that was a transformative opportunity! My first time on a plane, my first “real” trip abroad (Ontario doesn’t count when you’re from the Detroit area!), my first time being immersed in another language and culture. I found myself wanting to speak Spanish in Japan because my Spanish was so much stronger than my Japanese. But by the end of the year-long program, I was hooked!

The obsession continued as I worked my way through college. The summer before my senior year, I finally got to study in Mexico, a country I had come to love through many letters, photos and a few phone calls from my Mexican pen pal, K. I finally got to meet her in person after being friends for almost a decade! Those were the days before everyone was online constantly and instantly available, you young whippersnappers out there! We used real letters using paper and stamps. Get off my lawn!

But Japan was calling my name again, so after graduating with highest honors I returned there through the JET Program, teaching English in Japanese public schools. I requested to be sent back to the Kansai area where I had lived before, but JET sends you where they need you, and I was sent instead to a small town near Niigata City, which is about 2 hours from Tokyo by bullet train. It turned out to be a blessing because I met some wonderful friends and students there, some of whom I’m still in contact with over 10 years later. I continued learning Japanese and I was chosen as the only JET participant from my prefecture to study Japanese at the Japan Foundation Japanese-Language Institute, Kansai during summer break. Score!

Then I did something which is now considered normal but was then viewed as weird and scary: I met my now-husband online. That’s a story for another post, but suffice it to say we fell in love, got married, and have now been married for over 10 years and have two daughters. We’ve lived in 5 states as a family, and when you tack on my home state of Michigan, I’ve now lived in 6 states in a variety of regions.

When I came back after 2 years of JET in hopes of marrying my boyfriend, I got a job as a Spanish and French translator and coder for a market research company, and I’ve been working there ever since. Well, more precisely, I worked in their office for a few months, resigned when we had to move too far away, and accepted the job again when they called a couple weeks later asking me to work from home. In spite of translating French to English, I still don’t speak French very well. Fortunately, my job involves no speaking at all, so as long as I understand what I read, I’m set!

I started this blog because through it all, even before I started studying foreign languages, I’ve always had an eye for typos and a knack for proofreading and editing. All through high school and college, friends would come to me asking for help with their writing. There was one incident where my dorm roommate was almost in tears when she saw how many corrections I made to her essay, but she was much happier with the “A” she received on the paper!

I’d like to expand my work beyond my day job and help others communicate better. In addition to proofreading and editing, I’ve done language tutoring on and off since I was a high school student. I enjoy classroom teaching well enough, but much prefer tutoring one-on-one or with small groups. Please check out my “Professional Services” page for more details. Thanks!